Never Understimate the Power of a Teacher ~ A Head Start Success Story

Atiya Henley, the author of the Mean Girls - A Bunch of Bullies, shares her story of bullying in a powerful way.  Never be afraid to tell your story, the shame should not be on you but on the bully.

Atyia Henley was a former student at the Institute of Community Services, Inc. (ICS Head Start).  Her teacher was Mrs. Dorothy Gaston.  During her year at Head Start, Atiya exemplified good social skills with her peers. In her book, the Mean Girls: A Bunch of Bullies, Atyia saw firsthand how students were being pushed around by others and not treated with kindness.  Atiya used her social skills to help stop bullying to herself and others.  Head Start has a very strong back ground of working with children in their total development.

When a child leaves home and gets on the bus ride to school, they should know that this is their second home and nothing bad will happen to them.  Bullies are everywhere, however, even a bully can be stopped, just ask Atiya and her teacher Mrs. Dorothy Gaston.  Going to school should be about learning, having fun and making life-long friends.  Early learning is a must when it comes to teaching.  Helping students gain social skills early in life is important.  It helps them to interact with others and not be a bully to get what you want.

Mrs. Gaston states that she could not be prouder to be a part of Atyia’s learning process and progress.  She also states that she is so elated to be a head start teacher and would not have it any other way.   Strong and powerful teachers are everywhere, bust most certainly in Head Start, where children get the best formal education and the ability to grow into their childhood, not being afraid, but bold enough to tell the story in such a positive way.

My name is Amy Deanes and my husband is Charles Henley, we are very proud of our daughter Atiya, which her name means, God's Gift. She is truly a gift.

Atiya wrote this book because of no experience of her own, but because of her passion to help others.  She has a BIG IMAGINATION. This isn't her first book, but it's the first one that I published. Her very first book is titled, Black Joe, which is a book about how important it is to not judge people before you get to know them.  Which by the grace of God I have my own publishing company, it will be published.

She is also working on the second part of THE MEANS GIRLS: A BUNCH OF BULLIES, to show how bullying doesn't just stop because the BULLY gets caught, but the BULLY becomes more crafty in how to torment and terrorize the victim.

We thank you all for being a great part of her early childhood education. Mrs. Gaskin to this day is still her favorite teacher.

The Institute of Community Services, Inc. (ICS) is proud to share congratulations to its author, little Miss Atiya Henley and her teacher Mrs. Gaston.  According to executive director, Mrs. Eloise McClinton, we are proud to know that one of our own had a vision during this time in her life to pen such a powerful story and to share her experience of bullying with her teacher, who took the time to listen.

McClinton asked teachers and staff to listen attentively to what our children are saying because if we do not listen, we will miss the message.  A message that can be hurtful to a child forever.  Atiya trusted her teacher and told her about the bullying she was getting from other students.  It is important to know that Teachers do care!  A teacher never gives up.  Cherish them!

Your friends and those in authority will come to the rescue once they become aware of what is going on. Beautiful people surround yourself with positive girls and boys, and do not allow yourself to bully others (just because) The Mean Girls - A Bunch of Bullies tells the story in a great way.



David Moore ~ A Head Start Success Story

My name is Jeri Moore and I have a 4 year old nonverbal, autistic son. He also has low muscle tone in his right hand which gives him limited movement and control and low muscle tone in the left leg which made it harder for him to run, jump, skip, kick a ball. I am a stay-at-home mom, so my son is never been to a preschool or daycare, and for the past 3 years he has been in therapy.

Our area is very small, and with his disabilities the only place that would take him was Head Start. When I went to fill out the enrollment papers and told the lady about his autism there was no hesitation in her face, or concern. They just said, oh that’s fine and he would be fine. They were all so helpful with the enrollment and getting it all worked out so that he would be able to start the new school year in the fall. We also got to meet with occupational, physical, and speech therapists who come to the school once a week to give him therapy. When talking to them they all reassured me how well children with my son’s disabilities have thrived going to Head Start.

The day before school started we got to meet his teacher and much to my surprise the school also gave him an Aid who would stay with him all day and help him with his eating, going to the bathroom, and just getting to where he needed to be. It definitely made me feel so much more reassured that he would have somebody with him all day.
When he started it was definitely what I expected. He got through his day, but it was a little rough on him; he doesn’t deal with change to well. But after the first couple weeks I really started to notice changes in him. I went to pick him up one afternoon and they were having a snack he picked up a banana took a bite and set it back down. I know this sounds like such a small thing but I have never seen my son pick up any piece of food and take a bite. He would usually try to shove the whole banana in his mouth, so you always had to be careful while he was eating because of him choking. He started to be a little bit more independent; he would get out of the truck and walk right into the school and to his classroom, and when I would pick him up he would walk right back to the truck without having to be redirected several times or chased down. I was very worried about nap time because he hasn’t taken a nap in a couple of years and I was scared he would be disruptive to the other children. But to my surprise he started laying down with them and sometimes he would even go to sleep, and if he didn’t he would just lay there. He started sitting in his assigned chair more, he has even eaten some of the food at the school, at home he hardly will eat anything. We even noticed differences at home. He sat at the table and ate dinner with us one night, and we got done with our food and realized he was still sitting there with us, it was a shock. Usually he would have been up and gone.

One of the big things is that he would bite his hand when he was frustrated or stressed. I’m not really sure why, but after he started school he just kind of quit doing it. He’s done it a couple of times here and there, but he just kind of quit, which was amazing because, as a parent, it’s hard to watch your child hurt themselves and not be able to really do anything about it. His eye contact has gotten better and when you say his name he’s better about looking at you. Although he doesn’t always do it, it’s definitely gotten better. In such a short amount of time the changes I have seen are amazing. I cant wait to see how he does the rest of the school year.

His teacher and his aide are both such a blessing; they are patient with him and so kind and understanding. I feel he must really have taken to them both because he is affectionate toward both of them and he sings for them and acts like his goofy little self. I dont know how we got so lucky to get such a great teacher and the sweetest aide.

I really just can’t say enough nice things about everyone that works there. Every morning we walk in and they all say good morning David, even though they know he’s not going to say it back. Everyone there is so good with all the children. They seem so compassionate, caring and involved, and I feel they really do go above and beyond for the children and the parents. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better place for my son to go to Pre-K.


Destiny Liggins ~ A Head Start Success Story

You can always tell when a child has attended the ICS Head Start program. Social skills blossom, hand-eye coordination flourishes and academically they soar high above all expectations. ICS means so much to me. I was a student at the Erma Rogers Head Start Center many years ago. The school gave me the tools I needed to be successful in life. Administrators, bus drivers, and most importantly, the amazing teachers all played a positive role in my life.

I graduated from Byhalia High School in 2013 and went on to complete the Medical Assistant Course at Delta Tech in Memphis. I am currently enrolled at Northwest Community College to receive my licensure as a Medical Office Technician. In the meantime, I am employed with the Marshall County Public School System as a SPED Assistant Teacher at the Byhalia Elementary and Middle Schools.

As years go by, I continue to see their hard work and dedication to the children. Now, my daughter is at Erma Rogers Head Start and everyone welcomes her with open arms. Being a single parent, working in the school system, I know of the challenges of having many students with different needs and personalities. I applaud the teachers and assistants that have dedicated themselves to teaching not only my daughter, but many other children in our community, including myself. The things that I was teaching her prior to her attending the school have been reinforced and she’s mastering all those skills.

I think all children should attend ICS Head Start because they have every tool our children need to succeed in life. I am very glad that I and my child were able to attend this wonderful program. Thank you ICS for all you have done and will continue to do in the future.

Former ICS Erma Rogers Head Start Student and Parent of Khloe Nunnally

Destiny Liggins


Taylor Galloway ~ A Benton County Head Start Success Story

Hello, my name is Hazel Traylor. Roosevelt and I are the grandparents of Taylor Galloway. Taylor had the opportunity to attend I.C.S Head Start in 2018 and graduated on May 9th of 2019. His mother KaNeisha Collins, who’s in the United States army, was deployed overseas during his school year.

After she returned, Taylor moved back to Fort Riley Kansas with his mom. Taylor was given a placement test and it showed that he was on a first-grade level. I’d like to thank Ms. Hampton and Ms. Baird for being outstanding teachers.

Head Start in Benton County Mississippi has proven that early learning makes a difference in a child’s life.


Elias Steven Malcolm ~ An Erma Rogers Head Start Center Success Story

Elias Steven Malcolm was born on February 22, 2014 at 29 weeks, being three months premature.  Despite his sudden & unexpected entry into this world, he came in strong.  Extremely premature, but already weighing three pounds and measuring sixteen inches long, shocking all the doctors.

Elias spent the first six months of his life in the NICU.  He developed Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), a devastating disease that affects mostly the intestines of premature infants. He had the first of several operations at only two weeks old. But with lots of prayer, he healed, gained weight and overcame this.

During his recovery in the NICU, it was found that his heart was having trouble properly pumping blood throughout his body.  Once again, his small, fragile body would undergo surgery.  We continued to pray, as always, and Elias eventually healed, gained weight and overcame this obstacle.  Over the course of his healing, there were too many pokes and prods to his little body to count.

He remained on the ventilator, had many blood transfusions, and had IV’s anywhere and everywhere.  But, by the grace of God, when Elias was discharged from the NICU, he left there without being dependent on oxygen, a trach, or any other medical device.  God gave us the strength to love him through it all, because prayer helped us to overcome.

We were blessed with the opportunity for Elias to attend the Erma Rogers Early Head Start Center in Byhalia at the age of two years old.  Words cannot describe how much this has immensely helped Elias.  Being an only child and not being around other children regularly, kept Elias complacent.  He was not performing developmentally or physically at the appropriate age level.

Upon entering the Early Head Start classroom, Elias began to grow and develop.  He now strives to mimic and perform the actions that he sees his peers doing.  Once he transitioned to one of the regular Head Start classrooms at Erma Rogers, he began to attempt his first steps.  Oh, it was such an exciting sight to see.  He now walks without the use of any assistive devices and can cruise the hallways just like his friends. No longer does he need to drink out of a bottle, because he noticed that his classmates and himself are far too advanced for that.  Through those small changes, his confidence has soared and his speech has improved.

Now, at almost five years old, Elias has not only met, but has exceeded some of the goals set forth by doctors and therapists.  He continues to strengthen and learn through therapy services.  His attending Head Start is the beginning of his educational journey and he would not be the same happy child that he is now without this wonderful program.  Nor would he be the success story without the attention, teaching and personal dedication of his extended family at the Erma Rogers Head Start Center.  We love them all and cannot thank them enough.  We want to send a very special thanks to center Director, Ms. Lizzie Joyce Blackmond, EHS Teacher Asanta Brown, and Special Needs Assistant Rosalyn Albright, you are the best.  Prayerfully, Elias will continue to excel in learning and push past all obstacles.


Bernikki & Steve Malcolm

Elias walking down the street in the recent Founder’s Day Parade in Holly Springs